Columbia’s astronauts swooped to an on-time landing at the Kennedy Space Center today, wrapping up a 16-day, 6.3 million mile mission to study the effect of microgravity on the human nervous system.
Commander Rick Searfoss and Pilot Scott Altman guided Columbia to its touchdown on Runway 33 at the Florida spaceport at 11:09 a.m. Central time, bringing to an end the second Shuttle mission of the year, the 90th in Shuttle program history and the final scheduled flight of the Spacelab science module in which Columbia’s astronauts conducted their research. Spacelab served as a science platform for Shuttle-based research over the past 15 years.
It was the 14th consecutive landing for shuttles at the Kennedy Space Center and the 21st in the last 22 missions. Columbia’s return to Earth from its 25th flight was performed in textbook fashion. One of three hydraulic power units which failed to receive the proper cooling during a checkout yesterday, was activated about six and a half minutes before landing and performed normally in support of Columbia’s two other hydraulic units.
Less than an hour later, Columbia’s astronauts left the orbiter and were driven back to their crew quarters at the Kennedy Space Center for post-landing medical tests as part of the ongoing neuroscience research associated with the mission. The crew will spend the night at the Kennedy Space Center before flying back to Ellington Field in Houston Monday.
The astronauts are scheduled to arrive in Houston around midday Monday. Interested parties should contact the JSC newsroom Monday morning at 281-483-5111 for updated information regarding crew arrival.
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